Delta Blues at the crossroads: the economic revitalisation of the downtown in Clarksdale, Mississippi and lessons for other small cities and towns

Henshall, J 2012, Delta Blues at the crossroads: the economic revitalisation of the downtown in Clarksdale, Mississippi and lessons for other small cities and towns, Masters by Research, Global, Urban and Social Studies, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Delta Blues at the crossroads: the economic revitalisation of the downtown in Clarksdale, Mississippi and lessons for other small cities and towns
Author(s) Henshall, J
Year 2012
Abstract This thesis provides an assessment of the downtown revitalisation process in Clarksdale, Mississippi, having regard for cultural elements and incorporating a review of literature relating to the role of so-called 'champions' and 'creative people' in driving downtown revitalisation in other cities and towns. The thesis describes the journey embarked upon by the Clarksdale community in its quest for downtown recovery, and highlights the many revitalisation initiatives taken to date. Positive results are evident in new businesses and jobs, improved levels of service, refurbishment of derelict buildings, a renewed sense of place, and an increase in community confidence. The special significance of Blues music and Delta culture to downtown revitalisation is also highlighted through cultural tourism, noting that Clarksdale is situated at the fabled 'crossroads' of Highways 49 and 61 and is also the home to national icons in literature, art and other cultural pursuits. These are key elements around which the Downtown revitalisation effort is focused. Reasons for the decline and revitalisation of Clarksdale are evaluated and related to a broader literature, and lessons are identified to assist downtown revitalisation in other small cities and towns. For many years, the downtown in Clarksdale, with a municipal population 17,600 persons and located in the northern part of the Mississippi Delta, had lost its role as the centre providing a wide range of jobs and services to those living in the surrounding region. Downtown decline has been due largely to the advent of big box retailing and the location of new retail and commercial developments along the State Highway on the edge of town, combined with the loss of jobs and population associated with agricultural restructuring and a loss in manufacturing activity. The thesis emphasises the importance of 'champions' and 'creative people', drawing on community support, in achieving revitalisation. The significance of cultural tourism to Downtown revitalisation is highlighted, with particular emphasis on the global appeal of Blues, but with its roots firmly established in Clarksdale and the Delta. Lessons for other small cities and towns are drawn from the assessment of factors contributing to economic revitalization.
Degree Masters by Research
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban and Social Studies
Keyword(s) Blues music
Delta culture
Downtown revitalisation
Cultural tourism
Economic revitalisation
Heritage tourism
Mississippi Delta
Town centres
Small towns
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Created: Mon, 15 Jul 2013, 09:09:52 EST by Brett Fenton
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